Meeting about countermeasures to the attack
“Well then, let’s begin the meeting about countermeasures to the demon attack.”
It was Philine who kicked the meeting off.
We were in a conference room in the imperial castle.
Of course, from the empire, Philine, Dorothea, Joseph-san, and Hilda participated, and people from Soussa, Appalachia, and Baur also attended.
Literally, the representatives of humanity had gathered.
“First of all, let’s confirm the situation. What’s the current state of affairs with demons?”
“Understood. Please take a look at this map.”
Hilda pointed a pointer at the map of the area around the empire spread on the wall.
The demon territory was located to the east of the empire.
There seemed to be six fortresses between the imperial capital and the demon territory.
“As of now, demons have broken through the second fort and are trying to capture the third. General Zasha, who’s known for his bravery, is in command of the third fort, but a short while a horse messenger arrived that he won’t hold out for more than a few days.”
“Even Zasha can’t hold them back, huh.”
According to Hilda, General Zesha was a famous commander who stopped demons from advancing many times, and the demon army had never defeated him.
“The scale of the enemy army is different from anything until now, and it’s composed of relatively smart monsters with goblins and orcs playing the most important role.”
“Is that alone enough to defeat Zasha?”
“No, the problem is that although goblins and orcs usually run away at the first sight of disadvantage, they charge like fanatics. It’s as if they are afraid of something.”
“Hum… That’s worrisome.”
Fanatics are soldiers who are resolved to death and fight to death.
In any case, it appeared like the humanity side was being pushed back.
“You can see how serious demons are since they bet on this attack.”
As Manaria said, this attack must be important to demons as well.
“Specifically, when will they reach the imperial capital?”
His Majesty William asked.
“At the current speed of their advance, I think it will be around a week.”
“The reinforcements from Bauer… might not make it in time.”
Dor-sama spoke bitterly upon hearing Hilda’s guess.
As soon as Dor-sama learned of the demon attack, he asked Rod-sama in Bauer for reinforcements.
However, no matter how excellent Rod-sama is, it takes time to move an army.
It was questionable whether he’d make it in time.
“At which fortress will the magic tool be installed in?”
“In the fifth fortress. And between the fifth fortress and the imperial capital there’s only the sixth fortress.”
Hilda replied matter-of-factly to Yuu-sama’s question.
In other words, the success or failure of the measures at the fifth forth was directly linked to the safety of the imperial capital.
“Can you get that stationary magical tool ready in time?”
Sein-sama also asked a question.
“The stationary magical tool – official name Magical Weapon Inferno – still works. The problem is whether we can guide the enemy army in its range. Please look at the more detailed map.”
Hilda moved the pointed to an adjacent map.
“This is the map of the area around the fifth fortress. As you can see, it’s a natural fortress surrounded by mountains. The only ways to overcome it are to make a big detour and attack the imperial capital from the north, or to break through the fortress head-on.”
“Wouldn’t it be bad if they took the detour?”
Hilda nodded to my question.
“Indeed. If the demon army takes the detour, their march on the imperial capital will be greatly delayed, but instead we won’t be able to use the Inferno. There’s also a fortress to the north, but Inferno cannot be installed there.”
“In that case, we have to lead the demons to the fifth fortress no matter what it takes.”
The problem is how to lead them there.
“Is the information about the Inferno strictly a secret?”
Manaria-sama asked to confirm.
“Rest assured. Only few people in the imperial army know of the existence of the Inferno. Even though the demon spies that Dorothea had sniffled out realized that there must be some powerful weapon, the identity and whereabouts were strictly kept a secret from them. It’s extremely unlikely that anything would get leaked to the demon side.”
Hilda reassured us that there was no information leakage.
Is that really true though?
“If we ignore the existence of the Inferno, out of the northern detour route and the eastern straight route, the northern detour route should look a little easier to assault. If we don’t do something about that, our precious Inferno will be useless.”
Philine said so with a sour expression as if she had swallowed a bitter bug.
“How about we deploy troops on the detour route?”
His Majesty Sein made a suggestion.
“We’ve already deployed some soldiers at the detour route, but if we focus on the detour, the straight route will be short on hands.”
“Eh. W-Wasn’t the empire preparing for the advance of demons?”
What Lily-sama wanted to say was that there were too few soldiers prepared for this situation.
“Lily Lilium. Demons are not the only enemy of the empire. Not to mention the demon queen, my true intention haven’t yet been revealed to the neighboring countries. If we decrease the number of soldiers at the borders, there’s a risk that the neighboring countries will attack.”
“… Isn’t that paying for your own mistakes?”
It was Misha who softly said that, but I completely agreed with her.
“I can’t say anything back to that, but that doesn’t change the current situation. We have to think of what we can do now.”
“Haha. What you say is true, but really, you’re always so self-important.”
Yuu-sama spoke bitterly with a smile.
Yeah, it’s natural she’d want to say that.
“Back to the discussion. The problem is how to lead the demon army to the Inferno. Does anybody have any ideas?”
Philine returned back to the topic.
Silence fell for a moment.
“There’s one way I can think of.”
It was Claire-sama who broke it.
“What is it, Claire?”
“We simply have to set a bait that the demons won’t be able to ignore.”
Claire-sama’s tone was indifferent, but her expression was a little tense.
I had a bad feeling about this.
“What’s that bait, Claire François?”
Dorothea asked the question that represented everyone’s doubts.
“The bait is… me.”
As I went pale and got up, Claire-sama stopped me with her hand and continued.
“Once one of the Three Great Archdukes said, ‘This is the end, Claire François. As the main cause behind all of this, begone.’”
It was when Arist attacked us.
“I don’t understand why at all, but it appears demons have a reason to aim for me. It was important enough that one of the Three Great Archdukes bothered to come by himself. If I become the bait, I believe it’s highly possible I can draw the demon army to me.”
Claire-sama smiled fearlessly as she said that.
“I’m against it! It’s too dangerous!”
I was vehemently opposed to it.
Why do we have to sacrifice Claire-sama?
My bad feelings are usually correct.
“Claire-sama is trying to sacrifice herself again,” is what I thought.
“It’d be hopeless if I went there myself, so I will have Rei come with me.”
As she said that, Claire-sama smiled at me.
Ah, I see.
Claire-sama wasn’t trying to sacrifice herself.
She was properly thinking of her survival.
“To be honest, I can’t command the army. I have no experience in that regard. Therefore, I will leave that to professionals. I will devote myself to provoking demons together with Rei. The two of us can easily be flexible and escape when necessary.”
Claire-sama said that rather than working with the army, she’d stick to being a bait to the end.
“… Even so, I’m against forcing such a big role on Clair and Rei.”
Philine expressed her objection.
The person she loved might be send to a battlefield.
Of course she’d be against it.
“Then Philine, do you have any alternatives?”
Dorothea asked in a lower voice.
Her eyes were strict, allowing no naivety.”
“… I have none.”
“Then keep quiet. Emotional refusal with no counter-arguments is most unnecessary here.”
I was a little annoyed by how Dorothea cast away Philine by saying that.
“Is that so?”
“What do you want to say, Rei Taylor?”
“Neither Claire-sama nor I are people of the empire, right? If Philine were like you and forced us to be the bait without batting an eyelid, don’t you think we’d just abandon the empire and return to the kingdom?”
Why is our devotion taken for granted?
“This is the battle for the survival of mankind, not just the empire.”
“We don’t really need to have the decisive battle here. There’s no problem with facing the decisive battle in Soussa, Appalachia, or Bauer after preparing our forces while the empire is being overrun.”
Dorothea fell silent.
“Someone like Philine being the empress makes cooperating for the sake of this country a little tempting though, no? You can’t just do everything according to cold logic, Dorothea.”
“… Indeed. Forgive me, Philine.”
“Mother… Thanks, Rei.”
Philine seemed a little touched.
Huh, I just said something obvious.
“It seems this topic is over. I’m extremely reluctant, but let’s rely on Claire and Rei here. However, you aren’t allow to die, okay? Be sure to come back.”
“Yes, we have no intention of dying.”
“No matter who I have to abandon, I’ll at least bring Claire-sama back.”
And so, the strategy meeting against the demon attack continued day after day until late at night.
――Three days until the decisive battle at the fifth fortress.
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